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Hobby Center Box Office:
Saturday, October 15 at 7:30 pm
+ Sunday, October 16 at 2:30 pm
Zilkha Hall / Hobby Center For The Performing Arts
Handel’s final masterpiece sets an Old Testament tale about a warrior’s foolish promise to God and its terrible consequences. The austere subject matter (from the Book of Judges) becomes pure gold in Handel’s hands; his oratorio is full of beautiful melodies, searing choruses, even a surprise ending. These performances feature a stellar cast of soloists and the award-winning Moores School Concert Chorale from the University of Houston.
Featured Guests & Soloists:
About the Artists:
Dr. Betsy Cook Weber began the first thirteen years of her career as an elementary, then middle school, then high school choral director in the public schools. She is now Director of Choral Studies at the University of Houston and also serves as director of the Houston Symphony Chorus, preparing various programs for some of the world’s greatest conductors. In 2013 she became the 1st woman to receive TCDA’s coveted Texas Choirmaster Award. She is editor of the Betsy Cook Weber Choral Series with Alliance Music Publications. Weber is highly active internationally as a conductor and clinician. She holds degrees from the University of North Texas, Westminster Choir College, and the University of Houston.
The University of Houston Concert Chorale is the university’s premiere large choral ensemble. Under the direction of Betsy Cook Weber since 2002, the ensemble has performed for four TMEA conventions (2005, 2008, 2013, 2017) and the national ACDA convention in Miami (2007). The ensemble has also been active internationally, placing in and/or winning the following prestigious competitions: 47th Eisteddfod; Wales, UK (2009); Florilège Vocal; France (2011); International Chamber Choir Festival; Germany (2013); Grand Prix of Nations; Germany (2015). Chorale’s location in Houston presents many opportunities, including performances with/for Houston Symphony, Ars Lyrica, Mercury, Latin Grammys, Star Wars in Concert, NBC’s Clash of the Choirs, Josh Groban Houston Astros, Houston Texans, KUHF, ABC, NBC, and Fox.
Moores School of Music provides a comprehensive training program for gifted musicians in one of the finest public university schools of music in the nation.
Praised by the New York Times for his "beautifully shaped and carefully nuanced singing," tenor Derek Chester is steadily making a name for himself in the world of classical music. Mr. Chester received his Bachelor's degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Georgia where he studied with Gregory Broughton. As a student of renowned American tenor James Taylor, he completed his Master's Degree in Vocal Performance of Oratorio, Early Music, Song, and Chamber Music on full scholarship from the Yale School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music. As a Fulbright Scholar, he spent a year in Germany working as a freelance musician and furthering his training with acclaimed German tenor Christoph Prégardien. While maintaining an active performing career, Chester received his Doctorate in Musical Arts in Voice Performance and Opera Studies from the University of North Texas studying under Jennifer Lane and working as a doctoral teaching fellow with a dissertation on the early education and juvenilia vocal works of American composer Samuel Barber.
Though his career in concentrated primarily in concert work, Derek Chester holds his doctoral degree in opera studies has excelled in opera and musical theatre roles spanning nearly five centuries of repertoire. His theater and opera credits include Ferrando in Così fan tutte, Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Nemorino in L'Elisir d'Amore, Peter Quint in Turn of the Screw, Oronte in Alcina, Simon Stimson in Our Town, Acis and Damon in Acis and Galatea, and Abel/Japheth in Children of Eden. Dr. Chester is Assistant Professor of Voice at the University of Northern Colorado. He is a featured soloist at the Staunton Music Festival and the Colorado Bach Festival. He continues his worldwide career as a sought after interpreter of concert and recital repertoire.
Bass-baritone Timothy Jones is one of the most respected concert singers of his generation. Timothy has soloed with the Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Utah Symphony, Baton Rouge Symphony, and Boston Baroque. A favorite of living composers Jones has premiered over fifty works written specifically for his voice. He has been praised in the opera world, where he has amassed over thirty leading roles, for his passionate performances, solid vocal technique, and outstanding musicianship. Dr. Jones’s first, full-time academic appointment was at the University of Texas in San Antonio back in 1994. He is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music.
Praised by Opera News as a “silvery-luminescent mezzo-soprano of power and poise,” Maryland native Sofia Selowsky is currently a Studio Artist at the Houston Grand Opera. Her 2015/16 season there includes The Fox in Rachel Portman's The Little Prince, the Second Wood Nymph in Rusalka, Nell Gwynn in the world premiere of Carlisle Floyd's new opera, Prince of Players, and Eliza in the premiere of David Hanlon's The Root of the Wind is Water. She also covers the roles of Olga inEugene Onegin and Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro. In the fall, Ms. Selowsky made her debut with the Houston Symphony Orchestra in Schumann's The Pilgrimage of the Rose.
In the 2014/15 season, she made her Houston Grand Opera debut as Suzuki in Madama Butterfly and covered the role of Dorabella in Così fan tutte. She also performed the role of Despina in Così fan tutte at the Aspen Music Festival under the baton of Jane Glover.
Previous roles and engagements include Mère Jeanne in Dialogues of the Carmelites (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis), Lazuli in Chabrier's L'étoile (CCM), Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 2 with the Dayton Philharmonic, Véronique in Bizet’s Le Docteur Miracle, Baba the Turk in The Rake’s Progress, Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, and performances as a Young Artist at the Glimmerglass Festival.
Ms. Selowsky was a 2015 recipient of a Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshanna Foundation. In 2014, she was a National Semifinalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and won Third Place in the Houston Grand Opera's prestigious Eleanor McCollum Competition. Other honors include the Italo Tajo Memorial Award (CCM Opera Scholarship Competition), an Emerging Talent Award from the Kurt Weill Foundation’s Lotte Lenya Competition, the Emile Dieterle Scholarship (CCM), and an Artist Development Fellowship from Harvard University.
Ms. Selowsky holds a Master’s in Voice from the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati (CCM) and a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Harvard University.
Dominique McCormick is a lyric soprano from Long Island, New York. She obtained her Bachelors degree in Vocal Performance from the Eastman School of Music, followed by a Masters of Arts in Voice from CUNY Queens College Aaron Copland School of Music. After obtaining her Masters, she furthered her studies in France where she received a post Masters diploma in Musical Analysis and a Performers Certificate in Voice from the Conservatoire National de Région Boulogne- Billancourt. Dominique has performed in the United States, France, Belgium and Switzerland. Roles in opera and operetta include Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors by Menotti in Paris, France, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel by Humperdinck, at Theo Theatre in Paris, France ; Laetitia in The Old Maid and the Thief by Gian Carlo Menotti, Paris France ; Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Mozart, Vendome, France; Sola Myrrhis, in Coup de Roulis by Messager with Studio Theatre d’Asnieres ; Lady Marian in Robin Hood by De Koven with the Ohio Light Opera ; Hanna Glavari in The Merry Widow by Lehar.
Equally, she has performed as a recitalist and soloist for works such as; Mozart’s Mass in c minor with Choeur Lupinelle, Soprano soloist for Songs by Paul Moravec for New York Festival of Song at Opera America, Gloria by Poulenc- Choeur Regional Vittoria d’ile de France ; Lauda Sion by Mendelssohn- direction Michel Piquemal ; Les Musicales de Normandie- recitalist ; Dixit Dominus by Handel with L’Ensemble Vocal La Chappelle du Hainaut; Festival Soloist for Les Nuits de Cheronne; Requiem by Mozart with l’Orchestre Nationale des Pays de la Loire, directed by John Axelrod.
In the domain of competitions, Dominique has been the recipient of the : First prize for women in the Concours International d’opérettes of Marseille 2010 ; Regional Finalist for the Metropolitan National Council Awards in Louisiana. From September 2011- August 2013, she held the position of assistant Music director at the American Cathedral in Paris. In October 2011 she was appointed Voice professor for Choeur Régional Vittoria d’ile de
France under the direction of Michel Piquemal. Since her return to the United States in 2013 where she is a DMA candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center, she worked as an adjunct professor at Queens College teaching sight singing, voice, and French diction for singers. As she and her family settle into their new life in Texas, Dominique is very excited at joining the talented staff and working with the gifted students at Vivaldi Music Academy.
American countertenor Jay Carter is quickly gaining recognition as one of the nation’s finest, lauded for his luminous tone and stylish interpretations especially in the music of Bach, Handel, and Purcell. A frequent collaborator with both period and modern ensembles Carter is nationally recognized as a leading interpreter of late Baroque repertoire. He has also gained acclaim for recital programs of modern classics typically outside the standard countertenor repertory by composers such as Brahms, Britten, Schubert, and Hahn.
Carter made his Carnegie Hall debut in Messiah with Musica Sacra/Kent Tritle and recently made his Kennedy Center Debut with The National Symphony under the baton of Matthew Halls in Messiah. Recent appearances include Bach’sMatthew Passion with the American Bach Soloists and the Choir of St. Thomas Church, Handel’s Messiah with the National Symphony, Handel’s Saul with Musica Vocale and the Kansas City Baroque Constortium, and the North American Premiere of John Tavener’s Lament for Jerusalem with the Choral Arts Society of Washington. He has worked with noted conductors including Simon Carrington, Arnold Epley, Matthew Halls, Sir Philip Ledger, and Helmuth Rilling. In the coming season Carter will make his Cleveland Orchestra debut with Ton Koopman, his Philharmonia Baroque debut with Nicholas McGegan, and return engagements with The Kingsbury Ensemble, Musica Vocale, and The Choir of St. Thomas Church New York.
Mr. Carter is increasingly in demand as a guest lecturer on countertenor technique and repertory, frequently offering interactive lecture-recitals and masterclasses. He received a Masters in Music from the Yale School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music, where he studied with James Taylor, Simon Carrington, and Judith Malafronte and was singled out for the Louise E. McClain scholarship. He received his undergraduate degree from William Jewell College where he studied voice with Arnold Epley. He lives in Liberty, Missouri with his wife and two children, and serves as Artist-in-residence at William Jewell College mentoring undergraduate music students.
Cecilia appeared with Ars Lyrica Houston last February in All in a Garden Green, Songs about Springtime. She created the role of Renata in the first opera with mariachi music Cruzar la Cara de la Luna with Houston Grand Opera, touring with it to the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, France, and then in later performances at Chicago Lyric Opera, Houston Grand Opera (revival), San Diego Opera and Arizona Opera. Cecilia is an active performer in the circle of contemporary music, and has premiered several works, such as Ethan Greene’s A Way Home (HGO and Opera Southwest), David Hanlon’s Past the Checkpoints, The Ninth November I was Hiding (HGO), and chamber pieces written by composers Mark Buller and Paul English also through HGO. An early music enthusiast, Cecilia has performed at the Oregon Bach Festival, the Festivalensemble in Stuttgart, Germany, and the Festival de Música Barroca of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, as well as performing often with the Bach Society Houston and Ars Lyrica Houston. Past performances include Zerlina in Don Giovanni (Opera in the Heights), Jessie Lydell in A Coffin in Egypt (HGO) and several operas with the University of Houston. Future performances include Harriet/First Responder in David Hanlon’s After the Storm with Houston Grand Opera in May 2016 and an Angel in G.F. Handel’s Jeptha with Ars Lyrica Houston.